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School police officers say Minnesota’s new restrictions on use of holds will tie their hands

Aug 18, 2023 10:10AM ● By Content Editor

Photo: Scott Rodgerson

From The Associated Press - August 18, 2023

As Minnesota schools prepare for the return of students, police officers assigned to schools say new statewide restrictions on the use of physical holds will curb their ability to do their job effectively.

A provision in the education bill signed by Gov. Tim Walz in May prohibits school-based officers from placing students in the prone position or in holds that subject them to “comprehensive restraint on the head, neck and across most of the torso.” Some law enforcement officials say that effectively bans common tactics for breaking up fights and other dangerous situations, the Star Tribune reported.

Jeff Potts, executive director of the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association, wrote to Walz this week to outline the concerns of school resource officers, or SROs.

“Prohibiting the most basic measure of safely restraining and controlling the aggressor in a fight severely impacts the SRO’s ability to intervene, stop the altercation, and protect everyone’s safety,” Potts wrote.

Walz told reporters Wednesday the law includes “exceptions for health and safety of students and the officers.”

“I certainly think we should agree that we should not be on the necks of students unless someone’s life is at risk,” Walz said.

The disagreement comes as schools across the country grapple with a rise in disciplinary issues coupled with increased scrutiny on police since George Floyd’s murder. The St. Paul, Minneapolis and Hopkins districts eliminated armed police in school hallways in 2020. But Bloomington added police to three middle schools to supplement the officers that already patrol the district’s two high schools.

Brooklyn Park Police Chief Mark Bruly said that because of increasing hostility toward police, and the lack of clarity in the new law, some of his officers are refusing assignments in schools.

Minnesota Department of Education spokesman Kevin Burns said the agency will soon provide districts with guidance.

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